Heads of senior high schools in the Upper East region have warned their students not to return from the Easter break until government pays off the arrears of feeding grants said to have been delayed for three academic terms.
The announcement comes as the school authorities, who for over a year until now had fed the students with supplies picked up on credit, are under intensifying pressure from food contractors to settle the debts owed or be cut off from supply from next term.
Students told to monitor radio for reopening
According to the Upper East Regional Director of Education, Janet Kawia, the Conference of Heads of Assisted Secondary Schools (CHASS) has forwarded a letter through her to government to address some concerns raised about the feeding grants.
“They have written to the Director-General through me and also to the Upper East Regional Minister through me, complaining that they have not had their feeding grants and boarding grants for three terms. Their creditors are worrying them. They cannot feed the children. The creditors are not ready to supply again. That is what I know according to the letter they wrote through me. And that they would like to stay at home to see whether they will get the grants and that the children should listen to the radio. If they get the grants anytime, they will call them,” the Regional Director told Starr News.
Grants delays lower standards
Second-cycle schools mostly in northern Ghana have faced recurrent delays in releasing the feeding grants in recent years. For Madam Kawia, such delays are sinking the standards of education in the region.
“If the children would have to stay at home for some time before they are called back, they have wasted a lot of instructional hours. You can imagine. It really affects their academic work. For now we can’t do anything. If you don’t also feed the children, they can’t be in the school. They will cause trouble if you have them in the school and you cannot feed them,” she noted.
Bismarck Adongo Ayorogo, President of the Northern Patriots in Research and Advocacy (NORPRA), a familiar pressure group headquartered in Bolgatanga, Upper East regional capital, expressed the same fears, adding that the persistent delays could inspire students to drop out of school and embark on adventures dangerous to society.
“If it’s something that happens or that happened once, we would have forgiven managers of the Ghanaian economy. But this is something that seems to be an annual ritual. And policy makers, people in authority are failing to think out of the box to be able to diagnose the problem properly, fix it once and for all. The effect of having students stay at home when they should be in school learning for exams that would be written by all of them, both south and north, is unfortunate. One, there would be poor standards of education, because they wouldn’t be able to effectively and efficiently study. Some of them are likely to travel down south for non-existing jobs. Others will drop out of school, sleeping in the streets, some raped. All these things combined would trigger other outcomes?unwanted pregnancies, drug abuse,” Mr. Ayorogo pointed out.
We have been begging for food? heads
Secondary schools across the region are making do with what is left in their food stores to feed the final-year students who are still on campus preparing to write their final examinations, the West African Senior Secondary School Certificate Examinations (WASSCE).
“We need the money to feed the students. And we take the foodstuffs on credit. When we delay like that, suppliers are on us. And when we run short we find it difficult to approach them to give us more because we owe them a lot. We have always been begging for foodstuffs from suppliers. The first term is over. We are now managing with the third-years, and hoping that by the time we will be reopening monies would have been released for us to continue,” the Headmaster of the Bolgatanga Senior High School (BIG BOSS), Aselibiek Ababu, told Starr News.
The tentative date for reopening is Monday April 18, 2016.